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AI in the Classroom: Using AI to Build Curriculum Maps

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by Michelle Lindsey

Artificial intelligence topics have been sweeping social media platforms and with good reason. Teachers are expressing their concerns over the implications of these tools and students are looking for different ways to utilize this technology to its fullest. At first, I was reluctant, appalled, and terrified of what these new AI technologies can do and replace. However, as I try to be less hum-buggy about it, I have found some incredibly beneficial ways to embrace this new technology instead of shying away from it. Recently, I used AI to create something amazing.

I currently teach Creative Writing as a remedial course for our below-grade-level learners. I typically have sophomores and juniors and the goal of this course is to provide additional support for their English courses without the students realizing they were in a remedial course. So far, it has worked. One of the greatest aspects of this course is I can do whatever I want with the content (pending standards, laws, etc.). Because of the success, we are trying to expand this Creative Writing course to more teachers so we can offer additional support to more striving learners. I was tasked with putting together an easy-to-follow curriculum map for these other teachers so they have a starting point, and we could try to be on some sort of similar track in case we have schedule changes.

I panicked. I needed to have this map done in a timely manner and it needed to be standards-aligned, and have mentor texts, assignments, rubrics, etc. I designed my lessons around standards and my lessons were easy for ME to follow, but probably not for other teachers. I needed something more cohesive and academic for it to be considered a true course curriculum.

This is when I turned to ChatGPT. I used this AI tool to create the entire thing. The only work I had to do was prompt the tool correctly and put the information together into something pretty to look at. It took some finessing on my end to get the results I was looking for from the AI tool. It’s smart, but it isn’t that smart.

I want to walk you through the prompting process I used so you can easily replicate the steps to write your own curriculum. I am going to show you the exact phrases I plugged into the AI generator and some samples of what it provided.

Steps:

  1. I began by deciding what specific curriculum I needed, which characteristics I needed to include, and who my target audience was. If I were to ask for History, as an example, it would be too broad and wild to manage. I opened by asking:
    • Can you create a curriculum for creative writing for high school? For each unit, can you include objectives, mentor texts, lists of steps to reach those objectives, 3 links to essays, videos, poems, short stories, etc., writing exercises, and final assessments?

AI delivered. I received a 7-unit breakdown that included unit titles, objectives, steps, mentor texts (ranging from poetry, fiction, drama, and essays), writing activities, and final assessment ideas. It was brilliant and easy to follow. It even included specific titles for the short stories and poems. I’m including Unit 1 so you can see a sample of what it provided:

Course Title: Creative Writing

Unit 1: Introduction to Creative Writing

Objectives:


  • Define creative writing and its various forms (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, etc.).
  • Explore the importance of creativity and imagination in writing.
  • Familiarize students with the writing process.

Mentor Texts:

  • “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost (poem)
  • “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson (short story)
  • “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion (essay)

Steps:

  1. Introduction to creative writing and its genres.
  2. Analyze and discuss the mentor texts.
  3. Brainstorming exercises to generate ideas.
  4. Writing exercises for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

Writing Exercises:

  • Write a poem inspired by a vivid childhood memory.
  • Craft a short story based on a picture prompt.
  • Write a personal essay on a memorable life experience.

Final Assessment:

  • Portfolio of poems, short stories, and essays produced throughout the unit.
  1. This was a good start, but I needed to make sure this was a curriculum for an entire year and I wasn’t sure how long each unit should take. In that same chat, I then prompted AI with this:
    • Can you break down the 7 units into time frames for 180 days of school?

It took the already created units and then broke down the units into time frames. It told me unit 1 should be 10 class periods, unit 2 should be 15 class periods, etc. This is a general guideline, but it was a great starting point.

  1. I had a really great blueprint, but I knew I needed more specifics. For example, the final assessments were just ideas. I knew I needed specific objectives, rubrics, scoring guidelines, etc. for those assessments. So, I asked:
    • Can you provide more details for the final assessment in unit 1?

ChatGPT then gave me a full breakdown like this:

Certainly! The final assessment for Unit 1: Introduction to Creative Writing, is designed to assess students’ understanding of the basic concepts of creative writing and their ability to apply them in their own writing. The assessment should allow students to showcase their creativity and demonstrate their grasp of different forms of creative expression. Here’s a more detailed outline for the final assessment:

**Unit 1 Final Assessment: Creative Writing Portfolio**

**Objective:**

– Demonstrate an understanding of creative writing concepts, including various genres (poetry, fiction, non-fiction), creativity, and the writing process.

– Apply knowledge gained from mentor texts and in-class exercises to create original written pieces.

**Instructions:**

1. Students will compile a portfolio of their written work from throughout the unit. The portfolio should include a variety of creative writing pieces that explore different genres and aspects of creative writing.

2. The portfolio should be well-organized and include the following sections:

– Poetry: A collection of at least three original poems that showcase different themes, styles, or poetic devices.

– Fiction: A short story or flash fiction piece that demonstrates character development, plot progression, and descriptive writing.

– Non-Fiction: A personal essay or reflective piece that reveals the student’s voice and explores a significant life experience or observation.

3. Each piece in the portfolio should have a brief introduction or reflection that explains the inspiration, writing process, and any revisions made.

4. The final assessment should reflect the students’ growth in creative writing throughout the unit, with attention to the use of literary devices, voice, and style.

**Grading Criteria:**

The final assessment will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

– Creativity and originality of the writing.

– Use of literary techniques and concepts introduced in the unit.

– Clear and effective communication of ideas.

– Cohesion and organization of the portfolio.

– Attention to grammar, punctuation, and overall writing mechanics.

– Evidence of effort and improvement shown throughout the unit.

**Final Assessment Submission:**

Students will submit their creative writing portfolio, either as a physical document or in digital format, depending on the class’s preferences and resources. The submission should include a cover page with the student’s name, the title “Unit 1 Creative Writing Portfolio,” and the date of submission.

**Feedback and Review:**

After evaluating the portfolios, the teacher should provide constructive feedback on each student’s work, acknowledging their strengths and offering suggestions for improvement. This feedback should focus on specific elements of creative writing, encouraging students to continue developing their skills in subsequent units. Teachers may also hold one-on-one writing conferences to discuss individual progress and address any questions or concerns.

By completing this final assessment, students should gain confidence in their creative writing abilities and be better prepared for the subsequent units, where they will delve deeper into specific aspects of writing, such as character development, setting, dialogue, and more complex narrative structures.

I then asked again about the final assessments for units 2-7. I received a similar breakdown for each one. It was fantastic.

  1. The assessment criteria were fantastic for all units, but I knew I needed to be more specific with those mentor texts. I then prompted the AI to provide grade-level and standard-specific questions for the units. I needed discussion questions for the mentor texts the AI suggested but I also needed them to be objective-driven and aligned to the objectives it provided originally. I asked:
    • Can you provide discussion questions for EACH of the 3 mentor texts for unit 1?

ChatGPT provided this:

Of course! Here are discussion questions for each of the three mentor texts used in Unit 1: Introduction to Creative Writing:

**Mentor Text 1: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost (poem)**

1. What is the central theme or message conveyed in “The Road Not Taken”? How does this theme relate to the idea of making choices in life?

2. The poem explores the concept of regret and reflection. Have you ever faced a similar moment of decision in your life where you had to choose one path over another? How did it impact you?

3. Discuss the use of imagery and symbolism in the poem. How does Frost use descriptions of the two diverging roads to represent life’s choices and opportunities?

4. The last stanza is often interpreted differently by readers. What is your interpretation of the final lines, “I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference”? What message do you think the poet is trying to convey with these lines?

**Mentor Text 2: “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson (short story)**

1. “The Lottery” is known for its shocking and unsettling ending. How did the author build suspense throughout the story, and what impact did the ending have on your emotions as a reader?

2. Discuss the significance of the title “The Lottery.” How does the meaning of the word “lottery” change as you progress through the story? What does it reveal about the community’s traditions and beliefs?

3. The story is an allegory that comments on various aspects of society. What themes or social issues do you think Shirley Jackson is exploring in “The Lottery”? How does the story’s setting and characters contribute to its underlying message?

4. The story has been subject to various interpretations over the years. What is your personal interpretation of the story’s message or meaning? What do you think Shirley Jackson wanted readers to take away from the story?

**Mentor Text 3: “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion (essay)**

1. Joan Didion reflects on the act of keeping a notebook as a way to capture and understand moments in life. Do you keep a journal or notebook? If so, what purpose does it serve for you? If not, would you consider starting one after reading the essay?

2. Discuss the role of memory and personal experience in “On Keeping a Notebook.” How does Didion use specific anecdotes to convey her insights on life and writing?

3. The essay intertwines personal reflections with broader observations about human nature. What connections do you see between Didion’s personal experiences and her thoughts on the nature of self-awareness and the human condition?

4. Consider Didion’s writing style and voice in the essay. How would you describe her tone, and how does it contribute to the overall message she conveys about the act of writing and reflecting on life?

These discussion questions can be used to initiate in-depth conversations about the themes, literary techniques, and messages conveyed in each mentor text. They can also serve as starting points for further analysis and exploration of creative writing concepts with the students.

I then prompted the AI to provide discussion questions for the mentor texts in units 2-7. It did. The questions are provocative and thorough.

  1. I had some revisions to make- I just needed to be sure to tell AI what specifically needed to be changed. For example, I couldn’t use The Glass Castle in Unit 7 because of certain state statutes, but I can use Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider. I prompted AI with this:
    • Can you replace The Glass Castle with Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier?

ChatGPT then gave me new discussion questions for this new text.

  1. I was hopeful and asked if it could provide supplemental material like introductory videos. AI could not accomplish this task. However, it did give me a list of phrases to use in search engines to find what I might need. For example, it said:
Unit 1: Introduction to Creative Writing

  • Search for “Robert Frost The Road Not Taken analysis” to find videos analyzing the poem.
  • Look for “Shirley Jackson The Lottery explanation” to explore videos discussing the themes and symbolism in the short story.
  • Search for “Joan Didion On Keeping a Notebook TED talk” to find talks or discussions about the essay and the importance of keeping a journal.

It provided similar details for all 7 units.

  1. I also needed to ensure this curriculum aligned with our state standards. I asked ChatGPT to check for alignment with our state standards and it did. It analyzed the objectives it created for each unit and provided a crosswalk of skills to our state standards and what would be tested. I included this document in the curriculum guide I put together if you want to see what it provided for the state of Florida.
  2. My final step was to make it pretty. I had everything I needed at this point. I had units, objectives, mentor texts, writing assignments, final assessments, grading criteria for those assessments, and questions for those mentor texts. But this was a little wild and I knew I needed to make it user-friendly. I’m a sucker for slides so I decided to put each unit on its own slide. I am also a sucker for charts, so I made columns to separate the information. You can see what the slides look like by downloading the slides.
Download Slides

Overall, this took me about 3 hours. That isn’t long considering all that I was able to compile to make a year-long curriculum. In this situation, AI was a major asset that made this entire project possible. Yes, AI has scary implications for more than just the academic world. However, it also has its place in making the lives of teachers a little easier.


Michelle Lindsey

Michelle Lindsey

Michelle Lindsey has been a high school teacher in Florida for over ten years, and currently teaches AP® Capstone as well as literature and writing courses.


The post AI in the Classroom: Using AI to Build Curriculum Maps appeared first on Marco Learning.
 
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